At parent/teacher conferences this week, I was further impressed with what Common Core curriculum will mean to my kids.
I was assured by the teachers that soon, we will begin to see more, but it won’t necessarily be an increase in volume. What will change is the depth at which teachers will be asking our kids to think about the material. My son’s science teacher offered this view of what to expect.
“This isn’t going to just be busy work and lots of memorization,” she said. “Students are going to be asked to think beyond the “what”, and will be asked to think about the “why” and the “what if,” things which haven’t really been a focus for the past few decades as we’ve pushed kids to become better multiple choice and true-false test takers.
What’s really amazing, too, is this sort of thinking is going to be asked of our children at the middle school level – possibly even earlier. Imagine what they’ll be able to do when they’re adults.
Returning to my car, I questioned how often in a regular day do I look at what I’m doing and ask, “Why am I doing it this way?” Not very often. And even more rare is the times I ask “What if I did it differently? What would happen then?”
Perhaps this can finally help turn our country around again. Imagine a generation from now, a public that has been trained to read, express in writing their views, and can think through the whys and what ifs of the issues they face each day all on their own. It sounds powerful ... and somehow familiar.
This “thinking for yourself” may end the gridlock we’ve experienced for years now in Congress. It may answer many of our economic and social issues too. It certainly can’t hurt.
The other thing about Common Core that I’m impressed with is the amount of technical reading and writing students will be expected to do. Technical reading isn’t only instruction manuals. It’s reading nonfiction. Biographies. History. News. Students are also going to be required to write in full paragraphs. “Fill in the blank” won’t cut it anymore. And that’s good. They’ll be able to make themselves heard.
It’s good to see our teachers paving the way down this long forgotten, overgrown path to real democracy. Perhaps one day, extra credit will be given for writing letters to Senators, Representatives, and the President.
Veronica Coons is a reporter for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com.